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LRRP Members Return From Mission
Immediately Receive Bronze Stars

By Sp5 George Beidler Plei Djereng - Five members of the 2nd Brigade's Long Range Reconnaissance Platoon were awarded Bronze Star Medals by Major General William R. Peers, 4th Division commander, immediately after the team returned from a mission which resulted in six enemy killed. Under the direction of Staff Sergeant John Sanderson (Detroit), the LRRP team had been patrolling the Central Highlands for four days when an uncharted trail was discovered. "It was obvious the route was frequently used," explained the sergeant, " so we moved about 50 meters off to the right and waited."

The team began preparing for the evening while Private First Class Daniel Harmon (Kodiak, Alaska), radio-telephone operator, cut an observation and night ambush route through the dense jungle foliage to the trail. Nothing occurred until early morning when the LRRP was alerted by small arms and automatic weapons fire. "We knew there were Civilian Irregular Defense Group forces working to the south so we crawled to predesignated positions along the main trail," said Private First Class Houston Whitlock (Los Angeles). Four hours later, Sergeant Sanderson saw 10 NVA soldiers armed with a French light machine gun and carrying packs moving toward his position. "Three stopped right in front of me and one pointed the machine gun my way," explained Specialist 4 James R. Hart (West Chester, Pa.). "I emptied a magazine into them, then Harmon and I pulled back.

It's hard to say what could have been following them. "We didn't get 10 feet when we heard grenades and Sanderson calling for help. By the time we got back he had killed three more and the others were 'dee-deeing' down the path. We grabbed their packs and weapons and made it into the brush." The team informed brigade headquarters of the incident and within minutes helicopter gunships were enroute to a nearby landing zone to extract the infantrymen. "As we were leaving we noticed that one man was still alive, but in bad shape," recalled Specialist 4 Jackie Simmons (Jamaica, N.Y.). "We carried him about 300 meters before he died." The men were extracted and upon arriving at the 2nd Brigade forward command post - still clad in sweat-soaked "tiger" fatigues and web gear - they were presented Bronze Stars for their day's work by General Peers.

When asked how long the fire fight lasted, Sergeant Sanderson mused, "Oh, about a Bronze Star's worth." For Sergeant Sanderson, Specialist Hart and PFC Harmon, this was the second Bronze Star for Heroism they have earned within two months.